back to article Landmark EU ruling: Legality of UK's Investigatory Powers Act challenged

The legality of the UK's Investigatory Powers Act has been called into question by a landmark EU legal ruling this morning, which has restated that access to retained data must only be given in cases of serious crime. The landmark judgment [PDF] was handed down by the European Union's Court of Justice, setting a new precedent …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup...

    Lets hope this helps make this law reasonable...at least until some government fuckwit signs article 50.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yup...

      You have to wait for the next Court decision to see if they are going to be allowed to do that.

      1. Mark 110 Silver badge

        Re: Yup...

        One of the things I like about the EU is they take a rreasonabe attitude to things. How this legislation got onn the statute book in the first place is such a vivid example of whats so broken about thhe UK system.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Yesnomaybe

        Re: Yup...

        Another reason our glorious leaders are so keen to get out of the EU. They can run their country any way they see fit then. Must be really irritating having the EU stopping them doing whatever they want.

        1. Jason 24

          Re: Yup...

          I seem to recall that most of our glorious leaders were all for staying in the EU...? Not sure what you mean by that comment.

          1. Yesnomaybe

            Re: Yup...

            "I seem to recall that most of our glorious leaders were all for staying in the EU...? Not sure what you mean by that comment."

            Have you heard about the recent power-struggle going on, where Brexit will not even get a vote in Parliament if the Tories get their way? It seems a lot of politicians have seen the opportunities Brexit will bring (them) and are now hell-bent on forcing it through. If they were lukewarm about it, why take it to the Supreme Court?

            1. graeme leggett

              Re: Yup...

              "If they were lukewarm about it, why take it to the Supreme Court"

              Because if they royal prerogative is found to have limits, it might turn out those limits restrict more than just how Article 50 is instigated - the powers of ministers might be curtailed in other areas.

              that's one straightforward reason, there could be multiple devious political reasons as well

            2. Vic

              Re: Yup...

              If they were lukewarm about it, why take it to the Supreme Court?

              Because if they don't, someone will inevitably question the legitimacy of any vote in Parliament over the issue. And so the noise continues...

              By taking it to the Supreme Court, there will be one of two possible outcomes :-

              • The Supreme Court overturns the current verdict, and the Government gets primacy over Parliament
              • The Supreme Court affirms the current verdict, and no-one can complain that the Parliamentary vote is illegitmate

              Either of these outcomes is good for the Government.

              Vic.

            3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Yup...

              "If they were lukewarm about it, why take it to the Supreme Court?"

              Oh, no, not again!

              Read the very first part of Article 50. Go on, Google it now and read it. Look, seeing as you probably CBA, here's the link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/577971/EPRS_BRI(2016)577971_EN.pdf Now read it.

              Still CBA? Here's the relevant passage: 1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

              Now you tell me, what are the UK's constitutional requirements for this - and what's your authority for that?

              You see, it's unprecedented. HMG think Royal Prerogative provides the requirement. But we've spent over a third of a millennium - that's right, right back to the Civil Wars in the 1640s - establishing something called the sovereignty of Parliament. Some people think that means Parliament's decision is the constitutional requirement.

              The way to resolve this, the only way, is to get the decision of the courts. ATM the decision of the High Court is in favour of Parliament. HMG have appealed to the Supreme Court where it will be decided once and for all.

              Whilst my own view is in favour of Parliament making the decision I still think it right that the matter should have gone to the Supreme Court because we really do need a definitive decision.

              Consider, for instance, the situation if Article 50 was invoked irrespective of whether it was by Her Majesty May using the Royal Prerogative or Parliament passing an Act without a ruling. Brexit will inevitably cause expense - redundancies etc - for those corporations who have set up in the UK because it gave them an EU base. Suppose one or several of them were then to demand a Judicial Review on the basis that the constitutional requirement wasn't met. Can you imagine the chaos it would cause?

              Do you now see why it's important to get this settled now irrespective of whether you think Brexit is the best thing since sliced bread or a mistake that's going to cost swathes of its supporters their livelihoods?

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Yup...

            "I seem to recall that most of our glorious leaders were all for staying in the EU...?"

            Although our current Glorious Leader, allegedly in favour, seemed to have kept her head well below the parapet when it came to campaigning. Turned out well for her, didn't it?

      3. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Yup...

        And even then Waxy May will neither accept the verdict, nor allow debate.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Yup...

          "And even then Waxy May will neither accept the verdict, nor allow debate."

          Think not? If the SC supports the HC and she tries to go against it she'll probably be ousted by a vote of confidence or she'll be in a legal tangle that will take years to unravel.

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        1. streaky Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Yup...

          ECHR is a Council of Europe body, UK will remain in the Council of Europe when it leaves the EU.

          People still making faulty assertions about what EU membership actually means, ECHR [the convention] is full of derogations that UK constitutional law doesn't allow for - they can do more whilst we're in that they would if we were out.

          I realise that 'reg commentards are generally quite pro EU but at least do a *little* research before you downvote.

        2. Just Enough

          Re: Yup...

          When the UK exits the EU (whatever the hell that actually means) then they will not, at a stroke, just declare all EU legislation null and void. There are EU regulations that no-one wants rid of, no matter what their political leanings. So no-one is going to suddenly declare that everything that was illegal yesterday, is now legal today. That would be chaos and a very bad idea.

          What is far more likely is that the EU regulations are adopted en-mass into the UK, and then we spend the next 40 years picking through them one by one, discarding the ones disliked by the whichever government is in power at the time.

          Yes, you may well be of the opinion that this will be a colossal waste of time and money. But that's Brexit for you.

    3. Doc Ock

      Re: Yup...

      >Lets hope this helps make this law reasonable...at least until some government fuckwit signs article 50.

      In or out, we the citizens of the UK should be fighting this one through the ballot box and not having to run elsewhere. It's our own fault this reached the Statute books for having political apathy.

      Next it will be compulsory DNA sampling and microchip implants.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Yup...

        Fighting it through the ballot box? Easier said than done when the two major parties in England both supported it. And you are not going to get people to vote for a third party on the basis of one issue alone.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Yup...

          " And you are not going to get people to vote for a third party on the basis of one issue alone."

          It's getting to the point where quite a lot of people might be thinking that the third party is the only one talking sense on quite a number of issues, but admittedly they are only little things like Europe and human rights, so you're probably right.

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: David Nash Re: Yup...

          ".... And you are not going to get people to vote for a third party on the basis of one issue alone." Shush! Don't disincentivise the poor bugger, he was probably quite happy to go waste his vote, only now you've pointed out the reality he's probably going to do something silly instead, like vote Green. Best to leave the ignorant to wallow in the dark.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Yup...

        "In or out, we the citizens of the UK should be fighting this one through the ballot box"

        The only reason Labour opposed this is because it's a Tory Bill. When Labour were last in power they put forward a remarkably similar Bill and the Tories opposed it. The Tories also tried during the coalition but the LibDems stymied them that time. Oddly, the people most likely to keep the rights and privacy of the UK citizen protected are the very people the citizens have voted against, ie the EU and LibDems.

        The Ballot Box has spoken and it's not nice.

        1. Yesnomaybe

          Re: Yup...

          "Do you now see why it's important to get this settled now irrespective of whether you think Brexit is the best thing since sliced bread or a mistake that's going to cost swathes of its supporters their livelihoods?"

          Yeah. Fair enough.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yup...

          "The Ballot Box has spoken and it's not nice."

          unfortunately a large number of people seem to form their pre-ballot opinions based on what the Fail, the Sexpress, the Grauniad and the broken Mirror tell them, rather than assessing issues themselves.

    4. Graham Marsden
      Unhappy

      Enjoy it while you can... Re: Yup...

      > Lets hope this helps make this law reasonable...at least until some government fuckwit signs article 50.

      Or until Theresa May gets her "British Bill of the Rights that We Say You're Allowed to have, Provided You're Someone We Like"... :(

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    This is great news...

    I was unfortunately unaware that any major challenge to this foul and rank piece of legislation was still underway. Great to see that it is still being fought on our behalf as most times I feel powerless to help with the cause.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is great news...

      I'm certainly not complaining about El Reg here - but it does seem that news relating to this law - its passing, its progression, this legal challenge - has been almost non-existent in the UK media.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: This is great news...

        I don't know if it is lack of understanding or deliberate subversion of the content of the bill, along with timing it to get lost in the shuffle of the Trump debacle and other news, but El Reg is one of very few news sources covering this at all.

        It was mentioned briefly on The Last Leg on Channel 4 when it gained Royal approval. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver can usually be relied upon to cover stuff like this, but it's currently off air until next year.

        1. EnviableOne Bronze badge

          Re: This is great news...

          Trevor noah covered it on the Daily show though

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: This is great news...

          re: It was mentioned briefly on The Last Leg on Channel 4 when it gained Royal approval.

          You are confusing the: Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Act 2014, which this CJEU case was about and the Investigatory Powers (IP) Act 2016 - that supercedes it, which recently gained royal assent and was the Act mentioned on The Last Leg.

          Interestingly, the 2014 Act contained a sunset clause which means it will be automatically repealed on 31 December 2016, so the government has to do nothing with this specific act to comply with the judgement. However, the real question is what is the government going to do to bring the IP 2016 Act into compliance...

      2. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: This is great news...

        news relating to this law has been almost non-existent in the UK media.

        Which speaks volumes about ''independent'' our media really is.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: This is great news...

          'Which speaks volumes about ''independent'' our media really is.'

          Nothing to do with that. No celebrities are involved so the media couldn't care less. For them it's a non-event.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: This is great news...

            "Nothing to do with that. No celebrities are involved so the media couldn't care less. For them it's a non-event."

            ...until the first journalist gets caught up in a trawl.

            1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

              Re: This is great news...

              Frankly, I do not think the lack of reporting in "mainstream media" has anything to do with agendas etc. I think the reason is more prosaic : the right to privacy does not rank very high in media. It is perceived as something too technical or too mundane to talk about.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is great news...

          It is amazing. I am in China and I read it in the news here.

          Presumably this means the UK media are more censored than media in the PRC.

      3. Ogi

        Re: This is great news...

        Indeed, I had no idea anyone challenged it at all. The way the UK media reported it, it was tabled, the little people moaned and protested, however the plebs are unimportant and can just be ignored, so it was passed. Then the Queen gave her approval and that was it. Welcome to 1984.

        Still, once they have the data, do you think a ruling from the EU is going to stop them using it for all and sundry? The ruling only helps us if they actually follow it, and they are not exactly going to enforce the rule against themselves. It would be up to individuals to challenge the legality of the data used against them by the government, which I imagine would be nothing more than a small inconvenience to the state.

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            1. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
              Headmaster

              Re: This is great news...

              "The ECJ is the highest court in the European Union in matters of European Union law."

              Those who dwelleth in the UK are subject to the laws passed by Her Majesty and her Parliament...

              The EU is not some Über-Empire, but a club that has 27 (+ the UK) sovereign nations for members.

              1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                Re: This is great news...

                "Those who dwelleth in the UK are subject to the laws passed by Her Majesty and her Parliament..."

                Indeed, but I think you will find that there is an Act of the UK parliament, signed off by Lizibet, that makes the ECJ the highest court in this sort of matter.

        2. rtfazeberdee

          Re: This is great news...

          What papers do you read? the broadsheets have reported on this when it started, i wouldn;t expect the tabloids to report on it as its too complicated a subject for its readers who wouldn;t care anyway unless a celeb is involved

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is great news...

        @Shemmie - I wouldn't take the absence of anything from the UK press as unusual... all sorts of things can be revealed by checking the non-UK press (and Private Eye) as there can be news and/or parliamentary reporting blackouts in force here where people are simply not told what is going on. e.g. MI6 running private troops in wars the UK are currently involved in that don't get a mention here and that the general public generally know nothing about.

        As for this legal challenge, it's about time. God help us if/when we ever exit Europe and lose these protections - not that we should need protecting from our own damn government!

        1. JohnMurray

          Re: This is great news...

          My assumption has always been that I (we) need more protection from the UK government than from foreign governments. Especially since the UK government seems to think it has a lot to fear from 60 million people deciding to head to Westminster armed with bad attitudes and bricks. Are there 650 vacant lamp-posts around Westminster?

      5. veti Silver badge

        Re: This is great news...

        Non-existent? As I type, it features prominently on the UK pages of the BBC, Guardian, and The Times. Mainstream enough for you?

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Appropriate?

    Interesting that the Govt are objecting to the decision, as they already have appropriate limitations and safeguards in place.

    To which I answer:

    "Welsh Ambulance NHS Trust"

    "Food Standards Scotland"

    Two of the many, many non-security and police agencies who can browse all our data on the say-so of a lowly manager.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: Appropriate?

      But if Food Standards Scotland aren't able to access your browser history on a whim, the terrorist have already won.

    2. TitterYeNot
      Coat

      Re: Appropriate?

      "To which I answer:

      Food Standards Scotland"

      I for one welcome this announcement with a happy heart.

      If the Food Standards Scotland have untrammelled access to our internet records, they may uncover my evil plans to take over the country with my secret weapon-of-mass-destruction - the deep fried Black Pudding - with my fearless assassins running joyfully to their martyrdom screaming the words of the faithful, 'Eeee By Ecky Thump!'

      <Coughs>

      No, not likely is it...

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Appropriate?

        I thought Food Standards Scotland's remit was to have everything deep fried?

        (I'm allowed to say that, I am Scottish)

      2. Mycho Silver badge

        Re: No, not likely is it...

        It's not at all likely that Food Standards Scotland will use this data to counter a threat to the country. Far more likely one of their hundred-odd random employees will use it to abuse the girl who turned him down in the pub last week.

        You'll remember the case of former Miss Bikini World contestant Renee Eaves who got her records pulled a thousand times by horny cops? Now Food Standards Scotland can do the same.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Appropriate?

      I need to be careful here because I am in a position on the fringes of this subject.

      But:

      "Two of the many, many non-security and police agencies who can browse all our data on the say-so of a lowly manager."

      This is not the worst of it, because you've only been shown the list of official government agencies that have access to the collected data. What you're not being shown is the full list including all the various service providers and private partners of those agencies that will have access to your data.

      For example: the Department of Work and Pensions has access to your data, so their trusted providers and selected partners do to. That means ATOS has access to your browser history.

      Chew that over for a few minutes.

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